With a little bit of effort, you can use the new smart home technology on the market to create your own home DIY security system. In this article, we are going to have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of creating your own home DIY security system versus using traditional security company. The equipment you need. Then also what issues you need to consider when selecting a smart hub product.
Comparison of DIY and Traditional Security Systems
A home DIY security system will definitely work out much cheaper than a traditional security system. When you get a traditional security system you pay for the hardware and then you pay the security company a monthly fee for the services they offer. In general, when you buy smart products, the price includes not just the hardware but also support to maintain all the services. For example, if it says you can control it through an app, then the cloud platform needed to make it work is part of the price (You don’t pay for the smarts). If we look at this comparison of the prices of all the different security providers (http://www.asecurelife.com/home-security-systems-comparison/ ), then compare with the home DIY security system products on the market. You can see clearly may pay a little more to get the hardware but then you will be saving your monthly rental fee which can be anything up to 50 USD dollars a month.
Traditional security systems are usually set up by an installer at a cost. In the case of a home DIY security system, the homeowner does the setup and so the product is generally built with ease-to-install paramount. As it is also not usually necessary to knock holes in walls, this makes DIY products ideal for renters.
Emergency Response Functionality
A traditional security system usually includes a response system either from the security company or linked up to the local police station. Your own home DIY security system will not include that service as you are the creator and manager of your security system. You can get notifications to your phone, but then you have to call emergency services or set the house up with appropriate deterrents.
Flexibility and Features
A home DIY security system can offer much more flexibility. A home DIY security system connects up your devices and should give you an app that enables you to set up a bunch of rich automation scenarios. If a thief triggers a sensor, it will set off the alarm and send a message to your phone. This is the first step, but your system can also do many more things. You can agree some warning signs with your neighbors, like flashing lights, for which they call the emergency services. You can then set that up easily with an automation. Also, if you have a tennis serve machine in the house, you can plug it into a smart plug and fire off repeated rounds of balls at the thief. The only limitation is your imagination and common sense.
Also, the programmable nature of the system means you can use it for much more than home security. With the right hardware you can use it for fun – getting your lights to turn on your coffee machine – or home protection through flood, smoke, and carbon monoxide sensors.
Most traditional home security systems do just a few things. This limited functionality means you can tie everything to a button on a control panel. The flexibility of the home DIY security system means you have to set up the automation and usually through a smartphone app. This can take a little longer the first time, but remember once it is done then that security automation will continue in the background as long as you want.
Creating Your Own Home DIY Security System
Assuming you have decided creating your own system is the right way, you need to look at your security goals.
Deciding What You Want to Protect
Of course, you want to keep thieves out of your home, but do you also want to secure aspects of your personal possessions against intrusive roommates or children? For example:
- Money or jewels or guns in a safe or secure box.
- Stop your teenage children emptying your liquor cabinet.
- You may also want to go beyond just security to damage prevention and safety.
If so just write down your priorities and make sure you get the right equipment.
The Right Home Security Equipment
Sensors are one of your main weapons. Door or windows sensors usually come in two parts triggering when pulled apart. Place motion sensors up high inside the house to scan a larger area. If you are looking at doing more than just home intrusion security you may also need flood, temperature, smoke, and carbon monoxide sensors. When you are buying them pay attention to the following things:
1) Battery life – Taking it down and having to open a sensor is troublesome and time-consuming. Not to mention it will mean the equipment won’t work if the battery is dead. Make sure you compare and choose the sensor with the best battery life.
2) Look, size and ease-of-installation – You will be putting these sensors on your windows, walls, and doors so the smaller the better, even blending in with your décor if possible.
3) Features – What additional features are they offering? A really good one is a notification if the battery is low.
The points I listed above for sensors are also relevant for alarms. If an intruder got into your house the first thing they may try to do is to break your alarm; therefore, look for a device which is very portable and ease to hide. The flexibility of buying these devices separately and setting up yourself means there is nothing stopping you from putting the alarm anywhere.
It is really unlikely your sensors will have Wi-Fi capability so you need a central hub, for example, like the Securifi Almond. Sensors mostly use Zigbee and Z-Wave to communicate and transmit data. If you have never heard of these terms don’t worry, you need to know they are similar to RF and Bluetooth; just another way to send data between devices. The reason that the sensors don’t have Wi-Fi is that Wi-Fi consumes a lot of power making it not appropriate for battery operated devices. That is where the hub comes in, the hub can talk to the sensors and your router, translating and enabling you to control the sensors over the Internet.
What to Pay Attention to When Buying a Smart Hub
Ecosystem and Support for Other Devices
The most important thing is the range and depth of smart devices it supports. We are a long way from the promise of when all smart devices can just seamlessly connect up. Until that happens the hub manufacturers have to work with each smart device and create their own solution to get the devices working together. If the smart hub supports a fuller range of sensors it gives you more options to either shop around for better features or save money – and expand out in future. It is also important that the hub supports a broad range of key smart products beyond security – for example, brands like Nest, Philip Hue, and Yale – so you can add richer home automation and safety features in future.
You may have seen smart hubs which come bundled with a bunch of sensors. This is convenient, but you should first check if that smart hub also connects to other companies’ products. If it doesn’t then you will have to buy only their products in future.
Connecting all your devices to the hub enabling you to control them from your smartphone is the first step. These devices can’t talk to each other yet. To talk to each other they need a strong automation software platform to get the devices working together. Please pay attention as not all hubs’ automation platforms have the same features.
The basis of automation is coming out of the principal of if ‘A’ is doing ‘this’ then tell ‘B’ to do ‘that.’ In practical terms – If a door sensor is triggered, then sound an alarm and send a message to my phone. Good automation software should have an intuitive interface enabling you to create the rules or interactions that you want. But it should also enable you to create sophisticated interactions with more than one ‘IF’ and more than one ‘Then.’ For example, you will not want the alarm to go off if you are home. In which case you need to set a rule that says:
If I am home and the sensor is triggered, then don’t sound the alarm and turn on the lights.
Check first if a hub has this functionality otherwise you are restricting yourself to basic automation.
Arm and Disarm
Traditional security systems have arm and disarm functionality for when you leave and reenter the house. The reason is that you don’t want the sensors setting off the alarm when you are home. They also usually have a central panel with a password and a button, for all the family to use.
However, most smart hubs don’t have touchscreens with the user controlling through an app. This system works well to set up most automation, and also enables the owner to have central control. But with Enable and Disarm it is essential for everyone to be able to quickly get access to these functions. Even if everyone downloads the app, a panel is quicker and easier. If possible, look for a smart hub with a touchscreen.
Local versus Cloud Control
Many of the hubs on the market rely on the cloud for their functionality which means that when the Internet is down so is your security system (Not to mention if the company goes bust then your device is junk). An alternative method is to store all your automation rules and interactions on the device and let the devices communicate over your local LAN. In the unfortunate circumstance of the Internet being down, you still won’t get a text message, but your siren, flashing lights and tennis ball machine will all still work.
Ease of use
Also, take a look at how well the app integrates all your devices together. When you want to turn on the devices from the app are you able to turn on several at once?
Amazon Alexa Integration
Amazon Alexa enables you to control many smart hub and security features by voice. This enhances your experience greatly as you don’t have to reach for your smartphone to activate some features anymore.
Support for Third Party Smart Device Features
Many hubs will integrate with other third party smart products, but crucially do they integrate all the features of those smart products? This is important if you want to avoid having to go back and use the app of the third party product.
A home DIY security system is an investment in time, but an investment that can pay off hugely in terms of savings and functionality. You can expand it into a smart home system or add safety and damage prevention services. Importantly, you can also save device clutter around your home as you will have only one hub, not one hub for each of your different systems.
Securifi’s Almond 3 Router and Smart hub enables you to create sophisticated DIY home security. It also includes a built-in siren to reduce the cost even more. For more information on setting up a DIY security system for your home, including, typical rules you might create to maximize security read through our website or drop us a message here.